Storm Castle Cafe: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Monday Oct. 31st, 2011

You can find them here every Saturday morning, just off Lincoln Avenue on Tai Lane. The regulars, the visitors, the Bobcat fans, our friends and us – here for some of the best food in town and a short walk from campus.

And they’re here too – Kara, Lora, Zoe, Brooke, Megan, Beth and Kelly, making it their business to graciously take care of you while you’re here. Eat here a few times, and don’t be surprised when you’re greeted by name and served a cup of coffee just how you like it. Don’t miss dress-up days, either – for Bobcat Homecoming the entire wait staff dressed as homecoming queens, complete with tiaras.

Expect to get greeted cheerily when you enter, either from the front or back entrance. There is seating around tables, in booths and at the counter. The atmosphere pulls you in and instantly, you feel like a regular. Observe as your fellow diners interact with the staff and with each other, greeting old friends and making conversation with new ones, and feel free to join in. There are no strangers here, no ma’am. There’s even a waiting area where you can grab your own cup of joe and chat with your friends while you wait for your table or booth, and a great kid’s area with plenty of toys and videos, tiny and intimate. Truly, this is one of the very, very few places I will wait to get a table.

Then there’s the food. I’m warning you now, come hungry. I eat with some bona fide trenchermen and have known them to not finish their meal and take away a doggie bag.

Besides three-egg omelets, country fried steaks, French toast and pancakes, breakfast choices include Poncho & Lefty (crisp flour tortillas with beans, eggs, potatoes and chorizo), the Dustin Smothered and Covered Omelet (an all-ingredient omelet smothered in gravy and served with a biscuit), The Hazel Merle (a reuben omelet, my personal favorite) and Grandmas Enchiladas (cheese enchiladas eggs, eggs, hash browns with bacon or sausage). This place rocks Saturday and Sunday mornings, so plan your visit accordingly, or just sit up at the counter and enjoy the atmosphere while you eat.

Lunches are just as delicious, with offerings like burgers called Buffaload (buffalo style chicken tenders with a blue and Swiss cheese burger), Avalanche (bacon, grilled onion cheese and mushroom), and The Storm Castle (a double bacon cheeseburger topped with two fried eggs). Other lunch offerings sport monikers like The Mine (a reuben style sandwich), The Felix Emmanuel (a B.L.T) and the Montana Dip (chicken fried steak and cheese in a roll with gravy or green chili gravy).

All meals are served with swift efficiency, attentiveness and a six-pack of hot sauces and ketchup, not to mention a smile and a friendly comment. The coffee, water and drinks just keep coming. Nicole, Kara, Lora, Zoe, Brook, Megan, Beth and Kelly make sure to get to know you, your family and friends and when they ask how you’ve been or how the visit with the relatives were, they really want to know. The dishes served up from the kitchen are always a feast for the eyes as well as the palate; juicy, steaming, piled high and wide.

Scott and Nicole Peterson own and operate this Bozeman icon. Through the open serving window that invites the diners to see the action you can hear rock ‘n’ roll serenade Scott, Ben, Stan and the rest of the kitchen wizards back there as they turn out omelets, burgers, hand cut fries, batter dipped onion rings, and daily specials that are as good as they are unique. Daily specials are posted on the Storm Castle Facebook page and on the chalkboard behind the main counter. Scott is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute of the Arts and is an MSU graduate. He’s cooked in France, New York, San Diego and Big Sky, and you get to taste all that experience right here in Bozeman.

Here are some comments: “The cheeseburger deluxe is awesome! Hand-patted beef with hand cut fries you can get with gravy.” “You can’t get a pancake anywhere like you can get there – fluffy, thick, tender, moist and plate-sized.” “When you order bacon it’s good and crisp.” “The biscuits and gravy are wonderful!” “The eggs Benedict is to die for – get there early or they run out.”

My favorites are the Grandmas Enchiladas, either breakfast or lunch version, and of course the Hazel Merle reuben omelet which I invariably take half home. My husband enjoys creating his own omelet and drinking oceans of coffee while trading true stories with our motorcycling and non-motorcycling friends. We’re the big loud group on Saturday mornings at 9 AM; come and trade lies with us while we enjoy the wonderful food and atmosphere.

The catering business started it all, formerly based out of the Castle Rock Cafe. The Petersons still cater, from intimate on site chef services to events catering with menu items ranging from whole roast pork, chicken, or barbecue. Let me tell you, whenever Scott is prepping for a barbecue behind the restaurant the smoky aroma makes me ravenous. You can also arrange for a catered party on site at the restaurant itself, for smaller office parties or family get-togethers that promise to be truly memorable.

Remember to take a look at and sign the guestbook, started while Scott and Nicole had the Castle Rock Cafe. I promise you’ll see a few familiar and/or famous names, and you can even add your own comments and name to the growing entries from around the country.

The Storm Castle Cafe is open seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM and located at 5 Tai Lane, right off of Lincoln. You can call them at (406) 586-0395 during business hours and the number for catering is (406) 763-9988. Five spokes and I’ll see you there!

Stacey Alzheimer is a self-proclaimed foodie who had to put her motorcycle up for the winter but still manages to find great places to eat when she’s not working at Theraputika Massage.